How do you calculate your basal rates for your insulin pump? If you could show an example how to do it, it would be greatly appreciated.

Amy Campbell


There are different ways to determine a starting basal rate for an insulin pump. Typically, a physician or diabetes educator will estimate a basal rate by using the total daily dose of insulin. The total daily dose includes both long-acting (background) insulin as well as rapid-acting (mealtime) insulin. Because insulin pumps tend to use insulin more efficiently than do insulin pens or syringes, you likely would need to lower the amount of your calculated basal insulin by about 25 percent. However, there are factors that affect this percentage, such as how high or low your blood glucose has been running. Again, this calculation is to determine an initial basal rate. Most people who use an insulin pump have at least several basal rates throughout the day and night, and these rates are carefully determined by doing a lot of blood glucose checks and keeping careful records of food intake and physical activity. It’s best to figure out your basal rates (and bolus doses, too) with the help of your healthcare provider or diabetes educator to lower the risk of severe low blood glucose or diabetic ketoacidosis.